HomeSportsFormula 1Ministers collaborate to encourage veterans' self-declaration for specialised healthcare

Ministers collaborate to encourage veterans’ self-declaration for specialised healthcare

In a joint effort to enhance the health and well-being of former armed forces personnel, Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer and Health Secretary Steve Barclay are advocating for veterans and service leavers in England to engage with specialised healthcare pathways provided by NHS England and service charities.

This initiative aims to ensure that veterans receive the comprehensive care and support they deserve through dedicated services like Op COURAGE and Op RESTORE.

Op RESTORE, previously known as the Veterans Trauma Network (VTN), is a pioneering programme designed to cater to the unique health needs of veterans who have sustained physical injuries and medical issues due to their service in the UK Armed Forces.

To further this cause, the ministers visited the Op RESTORE team at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, North London and interacted with veteran patients. These individuals shared their success stories, highlighting how multi-disciplinary teams well-versed in military experiences have contributed to their physical recovery and overall well-being.

The renaming of the programme from VTN to Op RESTORE reflects a broader effort to increase awareness among veterans and healthcare practitioners. This rebranding is part of a suite of specialised healthcare services administered by NHS England, including Op COURAGE, which focuses on veterans’ mental health and well-being. The new name aims to facilitate easier access to Op RESTORE and improve its recognition among veterans and medical professionals, thus boosting referrals and service utilisation.

Starting in the upcoming autumn season, Op RESTORE will also extend its support to veterans seeking assistance from the Veteran Mobility Fund. This fund is geared towards providing high-quality aid to veterans with physical disabilities by offering grants for mobility equipment that caters to their unique needs, ultimately enhancing their quality of life.

Former armed forces members are encouraged to self-identify as veterans when visiting their local General Practitioners (GPs). By doing so, they gain access to tailored physical and mental health care services.

Since its launch in 2016, the VTN has garnered 740 referrals, yet the potential beneficiary pool is far larger. This concerted effort by Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer and Health Secretary Steve Barclay intends to increase the reach of these services to all those who could benefit.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay emphasised the significance of this initiative, stating: “Veterans have given so much to this country, and when they need support as a result of their dedicated service, it’s only right that the NHS is there for them. Op Restore is a brilliant programme that helps with veterans’ physical health and well-being.” He said, “Their joint approach includes military clinicians, meaning they receive help from medical professionals with a deeper understanding of their individual needs.”

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Rt Hon. Johnny Mercer echoed this sentiment, saying: “The reason I joined this government was to improve access to veterans’ care, and I’m incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made over the last few years. We now have clear and dedicated pathways for mental and physical health, and are looking at how we can extend this support further to provide wraparound, community support.”

The comprehensive support provided to veterans is the result of collaboration between military and civilian medical professionals, armed forces charities and NHS teams. This collaborative network comprehends the complexities of military life and the ongoing care veterans, service leavers, reservists, families and caregivers might require. Hosted by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, this service is available across England and is informed by the insights of veterans themselves.

Since its inception in 2016, Op RESTORE has received over 740 referrals and an impressive 97 per cent of referrals were reviewed by multi-disciplinary teams within eight weeks in the 2022-23 period. However, there are still numerous ex-force personnel who are eligible for specialist support but have yet to benefit from it.

National Clinical Director of Op RESTORE, Shehan Hettiaratchy, emphasised the integrated approach of the programme, saying, “We work with military charities and closely link with Op COURAGE so every element of the veterans’ health needs are met. Veterans will be seen by clinicians within the NHS who have an understanding of the challenges of military life – many having served themselves.”

The success stories of veterans like Maurillia showcase the profound impact of Op RESTORE: “The service has made me aware that I matter, that I have a voice – no matter how small or how soft… The support to me along this journey from Op RESTORE has been brilliant.”

Op RESTORE’s veteran support workers collaborate with local and national charities and organisations, thereby facilitating access to housing, employment, benefits and more. This holistic approach also includes involvement in local veterans’ breakfast clubs and volunteering opportunities, which contribute to veterans’ overall well-being.

The collaboration between Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer and Health Secretary Steve Barclay underscores the government’s commitment to the well-being of those who have served in the armed forces.

With enhanced access to specialised healthcare services, veterans can now receive the tailored care they deserve, ensuring a smoother transition to civilian life and improved quality of life.

Stay Connected
Must Read
You might also like


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here